How to Use Dowel Pins

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For years, doll pins were one of the more accepted forms of wood joinery. Furniture makers and carpenters, however, have been plagued by the fact that doll pins are messy, and if the holes are not drilled properly, the piece could be ruined. With the advent of pocket-screw joinery technology, the dowel pin has gone the way of the buggy whip. For the purist who wants to build the old-fashioned way, new jigs have been developed that make drilling holes for dowel pins more accurate than in the past.

Things You'll Need

  • Straightedge
  • Dowling jig
  • 2 pine boards, 1-foot by 4-feet by 12-inches
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bits
  • Wood glue
  • Glue brush
  • Clamps
  • Damp rag
  • Lay the pine boards on a flat surface so that the 12-inch edges are butted up against each other. Mark a line across the butted pieces where dowel holes are to be drilled, using a pencil and straightedge.

  • Attach a dowling jig to the edge of the board at one of the marks, ensuring that the jig is centered on the edge of the board. Drill a hole in the edge of the board using the dowling jig as a guide for the drill bit. Ensure that the hole is deep enough to accommodate at least half of the dowel pin. Drill an extra 3/16 inches to allow for glue and air that may become trapped below the dowel pin when it is inserted into the dowel hole. Repeat this procedure for each mark on both pieces of wood.

  • Brush wood glue onto each dowel with a glue brush and insert the pins into the dowel holes on one board. Brush a thin layer of wood glue onto the edge of each board and join the boards, lining up the pins with the holes. Clamp the pieces. Wipe off excess glue with a damp rag. Keep the wood clamped until the glue is dried.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid putting wood glue directly into the dowel hole. Putting glue directly into the hole could result in excessive glue being trapped at the bottom of the hole.
  • Always wear safety glasses when operating power tools.

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